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QSI Delivers on Key National Science Foundation Hydrogen Generation Grant Milestones

98% of industrial Hydrogen is presently made through a chemical process known as steam methane reformation (SMR). Steam is reacted to methane in a multi step process, with the end result being hydrogen mixed with carbon dioxide and small amounts of carbon monoxide. There are three main disadvantages to this conventional chemical technology of SMR. The first is that the steam reforming reaction requires a tremendous amount of heat input in order to be started and sustained, since it is an endothermic process. The second is the use of a multi step pressure swing adsorption (PSA) system to purify the product hydrogen, which requires a significant expenditure of energy, and the third is the fact that SMR systems are difficult and costly to scale down to compact systems. Hydrogen production, via a mixture of catalytic partial oxidation (CPOX) and water-gas shift (WGS) reactions, successfully deals with several challenges that SMR systems face.

The exothermic partial oxidation reaction only requires an initial heat input and is then able to continue on its own. CPOX-WGS systems scale down better than SMR systems (fewer unit operations), and the palladium based hydrogen separation membrane incorporated into the design is an improvement over the PSA process, producing ultra-high purity hydrogen. Fast startup times are archived by the system integration of a metal hydride storage system, which enables instantaneous hydrogen production and fast transient responses. QSI has improved process design for the CPOX process, leading to reaction efficiencies of up to 92% of theoretical numbers at atmospheric pressure and greater than 70% efficiencies at 100 psi. This catalyst is 83% more efficient than anything previously tested, and is the key to making a viable, compact and efficient hydrogen production system that is an improvement over existing SMR technology.

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